The Texas Department of Transportation has begun acquiring rights of way along about 14 miles of Interstate 45 in La Marque, a department spokesman said.
The construction phase of a project to widen Interstate 45 from six lanes to eight lanes could begin in the fall of 2018, with contract bidding beginning next summer, department spokesman Danny Perez said.
The department has begun contacting some La Marque businesses along I-45 about buying property, city spokeswoman Colleen Merritt said. Merritt didn’t specify which businesses have been contacted so far.
The state’s transportation department also updated its maps for the proposed widening and rights of way required, Merritt said. The new maps appear to take into account some of residents’ worries about the expansion and land acquisition, she said.
“The new maps did reduce some need for rights of way and did take into consideration some of the concerns the citizens of La Marque had,” Merritt said.
The plan required about 20 acres of rights of way in La Marque between FM 1764 and the Galveston Causeway. The city did not yet know the new acreage for the rights of way, Merritt said.
The transportation department recently completed its environmental assessment of the project, which means it has met the requirements as far as public meetings, hearings and other preliminary work, Perez said.
“We’re now working on acquiring rights of way, but we don’t have the exact amount of properties affected now,” Perez said. “We’re working on that at this time.”
The transportation department also will continue working drainage studies, Merritt said. The project, though, is still in preliminary stages with few design plans available, Merritt said.
The city hopes to play a role in those plans with the transportation department, especially because La Marque has more interstate frontage than any other city in the county, she said. The city will likely push for landscaping along the route and the addition of decorative accents to the proposed sound walls, she said.
“We want to make sure the impact is in a positive way,” Merritt said. “This is an opportunity to change the landscape of La Marque forever.”